A Look at some Chicago area officials who have faced criminal charges in recent years

CHICAGO (CBS) – The Chicago area has had more than its share of public corruption over the years, and the indictment of former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan on racketeering and bribery charges comes on the heels of numerous other incidents of criminal charges against politicians over just the past few years.

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Illinois State Sen. Tom Cullerton, D-Villa Park, center, chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, addresses a committee hearing Tuesday, May 1, 2018, at the Illinois state Capitol in Springfield, Ill. A preliminary report in April put total improvement costs at $ 278 million. (AP Photo / John O’Connor)

Just last month, an attorney said Illinois state Sen. Thomas Cullerton (D-Villa Park) planned to plead guilty to charges he took more than $ 250,000 in salary and benefits in a ghost-payrolling scheme involving the Teamsters labor union.

Cullerton was indicted in 2019 on one count of conspiracy to embezzle from a labor union, 39 counts of embezzlement from a labor union, and one count of making false statements.

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Luis Arroyo

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In November, former state Rep. Luis Arroyo admitted in November to bribing a former state senator in exchange for his support on sweepstakes-related legislation that would benefit one of Arroyo’s lobbying clients. Last month, prosecutors requested that Arroyo be sentenced to up to four years and nine months in prison

Arroyo, 67, resigned from the Illinois House

in November 2019, just days after he was first charged.

Federal prosecutors have not identified the senator they bribed in court documents, but multiple published reports have identified the lawmaker as former State Sen. Terry Link.

Link resigned from the Illinois Senate last year, just days before pleaded guilty to filing a false tax return,

admitting he under-reported his income by tens of thousands of dollars in 2016.

Link has publicly denied he is the state senator involved in Arroyo’s case, but he cooperated with federal prosecutors as part of his own plea deal, and according to published reports he wore a wire as part of the investigation into Arroyo.

Meanwhile, about a year after Arroyo was indicted, federal prosecutors added a co-defendant to his case, accusing Arroyo and video sweepstakes company owner James Weiss to pay a state senator $ 2,500 a month in kickbacks in exchange for his support on legislation beneficial to the video gambling industry.

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Ald. Carrie Austin (34th) speaks at a Chicago City Council meeting.

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In July 2021, Ald. Carrie Austin (34th) and her chief of staff, Chester Wilson Jr., pleaded not guilty on Thursday to federal charges accusing them of taking bribes

from a construction company seeking Austin’s support for a development in her ward.

Austin, 72, was charged with one count of conspiring to use interstate facilities to promote bribery, two counts of using interstate facilities to promote bribery, and one count of willfully making materially false statements to the FBI.

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In this March 25, 2014 file photo, Illinois Sen. Martin Sandoval, D-Cicero, speaks during a news conference at the Illinois State Capitol, in Springfield, Ill.

AP Photo / Seth Perlman File


In January 2020, former Illinois State Sen. Martin Sandoval pleaded guilty to bribery and tax evasion charges. He admitted to agreeing to act as a “protector” for red light camera company SafeSpeed ​​in exchange for thousands of dollars in bribes, and was cooperating with federal prosecutors in a sweeping corruption probe.

Federal prosecutors said Sandoval also took additional bribes in connection with “corrupt activities with other public officials” in exchange for using his position as a state senator and chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee to benefit other people and their business interests. Those other public officials were not named in the plea deal.

In total, prosecutors say Sandoval took $ 250,000 in bribes from crimes involving more than five people, including $ 70,000 in connection to his support for the red light camera industry.

Sandoval was charged with one count of bribery involving federal programs and one count of fraud and false statements. He pleaded guilty to both counts and faced a maximum of 13 years in prison, although prosecutors agreed to recommend a shorter sentence in exchange for his ongoing cooperation.

On Dec. 5, 2020, Sandoval died of COVID-19 at the age of 56.

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Forms Ald. Willie Cochran speaks to reporters after he was sentenced to one year in prison for wire fraud, for taking more than $ 14,000 from a charitable fund he created to use the money for gambling and his daughter’s tuition.

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In June 2019, former Ald. Willie Cochran (20th) was sentenced to a year in prison after pleading guilty to federal fraud charges.

The March before, Cochran pleaded guilty to one felony count of wire fraud, admitting he withdrew $ 14,285 from the 20th Ward Activities Fund – a charitable group he created ostensibly to finance programs for needy children and seniors – and converted the money for his personal use. Cochran spent the money on gambling at Ameristar Casino, his daughter’s college expenses, and goods for his home.

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Ald. Proco “Joe” Moreno (1st)

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In May 2019, days before he left office after losing his bid for reelection, then-Ald. Proco “Joe” Moreno (1st) was arrested and charged with insurance fraud and obstruction of justice, accused of filing a false police report that his car was stolen in January.

Cook County prosecutors said Moreno filed a false insurance claim for the car, and his insurance company was prepared to pay him $ 30,000 for the 2016 Audi sedan until detectives informed them the car had not been stolen.

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Ed Burke

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And also in May 2019, perhaps most infamously, Ald. Ed Burke (14th), who has served on the City Council for more than half a century and spent many years as Finance Committee chairman, was indicted on racketeering and attempted extortion charges.

The federal charges alleged that Burke tried to shake down developers behind the renovation of the Old Post Office as well as a Chinese businessman seeking a sign permit, with Burke seeking business for his law firm in return.

The indictment alleged that Burke told Ald. Danny Solis (25th) that he would not help the New York-based company redeveloping the Old Post Office unless it hired Burke’s law firm to do tax work. Burke told Solis in January of 2017: “The cash register has not rung yet.”

Eventually, the post office developer hired Burke’s firm at a $ 45,000 fee over three years. In return Burke supported a TIF subsidy for the project, without revealing his conflict of interest.

In addition, the indictment alleged that Burke used his position to squeeze tax work for his law firm out of Chinese businessman Charles Cui, in exchange for Burke’s help in obtaining a sign permit for a building Cui owns near the Six Corners intersection.

The indictment also details a rather petty form of extortion by Burke.

He allegedly threatened to oppose an admission fee hike for a Chicago museum, unless that museum hired the child of a personal friend for an internship.

Burke has not yet gone to trial and is still sitting as an alderman.

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